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Seoul government enters emergency mode

Publication Date : 12-02-2013


The South Korean government entered emergency mode by stepping up the security alert level and fully activating diplomatic channels to discuss the countermeasures upon North Korea’s defiant nuclear test Tuesday.

Outgoing and incoming presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye met at 3pm in Cheong Wa Dae for discussion upon Pyongyang’s nuclear test in Kilju County despite vehement warnings by the international community.

Lee and Park were set to share intelligence information on the nuclear test and discuss the countermeasures.

The Defence Ministry stepped up the military readiness to level two from level three upon the North’s nuclear test, while South Korea and the US upgraded the “Watch Condition” status.

The ministry, in an emergency press briefing in the afternoon, said they were closely watching for signs of any additional nuclear testing by the North.

Immediately upon detecting the nuclear test through an artificial tremor, President Lee convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council at 1pm with Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, First Vice Foreign Minister Ahn Ho-young, Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin and Unification Minister Ryu Woo-ik.

“North Korea’s nuclear test following the missile launch is a clear violation of the UN Security Council’s resolutions including Resolution 1718, 1874 and 2087,” Chun Young-woo, chief presidential secretary on foreign affairs and security, said in a statement. He vowed tough consequences by the UN Security Council and stronger defence against any additional provocation by the North.

President-elect Park also called an urgent meeting with former defence minister Kim Jang-soo, who has been named to head the presidential official of national security, and her foreign affairs, unification and defence committee members.

“The new government will by no means tolerate North Korea’s nuclear armament,” Park said at the meeting according to her spokeswoman Cho Yoon-sun.

“The Korean peninsular trust-building process pursued by the new government cannot be accomplished through our efforts alone. … We will be able to push toward it only when the North shows sincere and earnest attitude and action,” Park said. The president-elect called on stern measures by the members of the six-party talks and the UN to condemn the North’s provocation.

Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, currently in New York, telephoned US Secretary of State John Kerry and agreed on “close cooperation.”

Kim also scheduled meetings with UN Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and Vitaly Churkin, the Russian representative to the UN, to confer on measures against the defiant North. The UN Security Council was set to convene an emergency meeting upon Seoul’s request at 11pm Korean time.

South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy Lim Sung-nam telephoned his US and Japanese counterparts to discuss the next steps. He was also set to meet with the US, Japanese and Russian ambassadors in Seoul. Chinese ambassador to Seoul Zhang Xinsen is currently visiting his homeland, officials said.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry convened an emergency meeting presided by Second Vice Minister Kim Sung-han and reaffirmed safety measures for South Koreans overseas.

South Korea’s economic policymakers, on their part, fortified their monitoring of the market. Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan convened a meeting with his top ministry officials at 1:15pm to analyse the potential impact of the nuclear test on the financial markets.


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